© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Plateau killings: Buhari fiddles while nation burns
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has repeatedly scored himself high in the area of security despite the frequent killings of Nigerians by suspected Fulani herdsmen and other terrorist groups.
Terror perpetrated by herdsmen is often conceived as communal clashes or herdsmen-farmers conflict. This conclusion seemed to have become a default perception of the presidency.
So, despite their failures to protect innocent Nigerians, the security chiefs have their tenure extended by the president. Buhari also has not sacked any head of security agency since he assumed office.
A good example is the dereliction of duty by the Ibrahim Idris, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) which was widely reported in the media. Despite the public critizism, the police chief still retaines his post till date.
The ICIR reported that, Buhari ordered Idris to relocate to Benue State in the wake of the 2018 New Year Day massacre by suspected Fulani Herdsmen to “restore law and order, prevent further loss of lives and forestall the crisis from escalating and spreading in the state”.
In obedience to the order, Idris moved to Benue State, but did not spend more than 24 hours in the state.
When Buhari was later informed about Idris’s diosobedience, the president claimed ignorance.
When the IG was sighted at the State House another day, journalists thought he was summoned to explain why he flouted the president’s order, and went to town with the story that Buhari had queried Idris.
But Jimoh Moshood, the police spokesman, would later notify the public that his boss was never queried. “Anybody that said the IGP was queried by the president should bring the copy of the query, let us display it,” he said.
Case closed. Idris is still the IGP.
EXTENSION OF SERVICE CHIEFS’ TENURE
All the service chiefs: Abayomi Olonisakin, Chief of Defence Staff; Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff; Ibok Ete-Ibas, Chief of Naval Staff and Sadique Abubakar, Chief of Air Staff are supposed to have been retired since last year but Buhari extended their tenures indefinitely.
The extension of the tenure was for the job well-done. Buhari approved the tenure extension after “having carefully reviewed the ongoing military operations across the country and the efforts of the service chiefs in the counter-insurgency operations in the North East coupled with the security situation of the Niger Delta region.”
The president’s body language seems to be: as long as oil production in the Niger Delta is unhindered and Boko Haram is “downgraded”, the service chiefs can all keep their jobs while helpless citizens are being killed by herdsmen.
Buhari has often claimed that the herdsmen on rampage are fighters from Libya but he has not shown commitment in curtailing the foreign killers as he has done to Boko Haram and Niger Delta militants.
Mansur Dan-Ali, Minister of Defence, does not agree with Buhari that the killer-herdsmen are Libyan fighters. Dan-Ali rather blames the victims for being killed.
“Since the nation’s independence, we know there used to be a route followed by the cattle-rearers because they are all over the nation,” says Dan-Ali after a security meeting with Service Chiefs at the Presidential Villa, Abuja in January.
“You go to Bayelsa, Ogun, you will see them. If those routes are blocked, what do you expect will happen? These people are Nigerians. It is just like one going to block shoreline, does that make sense to you?”
For Dan-Ali, the killings are communal and the victims must learn how to accommodate the herdsmen and stop blocking their ways to avoid being killed.
Dan-Ali is still the Minister of Defence.
Not long after, President Buhari himself uttered a more insensitive statement. He asked leaders from Benue State to accommodate their fellow countrymen after the massacre by the suspected Fulani herdsmen.
As long as the killings involve the herdsmen, they are communal clashes and neither Buhari nor his head of security agencies should be held accountable.
The death toll in Plateau State after the Saturday attacks on communities by suspected Fulani herdsmen was 86, according to the police.
In Buhari’s security meeting, it is conceivable the carnage will be discussed as a communal clash.